The Blood Elf beginning area was beautiful and bright, but that devious city named Silvermoon wasn’t built in a straight forward manner, and I didn’t enjoy having to walk the entire place just to get outside again. Goblins have that cool rocket jump and rocket barrage, but I couldn’t find the third person for that early driving quest, and I don’t play MMOs to drive cars. Worgens were awesome, truly, but when I found out my guild was aligned with the horde I instantly convinced myself that they were in fact not awesome, but despicable, lack-wit furries. Humans I was familiar with and could relate to, but they were so homely and I’ve tread that trail twice before, so I couldn’t join their army. Then my guild master told me that we needed a Tauren shaman for an achievement… so I rolled one!
That was how my third adventure into Azeroth began! Twice before have I taken up the mantel of the Alliance to combat the treacherous Horde legions, only to be felled at the first small skirmish. Why would I dare join the ranks again you ask, especially if my first two attempts were everything but encouraging and endearing? Partly because I care for my guild dearly, but mostly because Rift became terribly stale for me and the population on both my server and guild roster was dwindling.
My first encounter with World of Warcraft was back in my first year of high school and I only vaguely remember it. My friends and I made a guild which I got to set up so I stole all the member ranks and names from The Wheel of Time Series. We played around until about level twenty, then all but two of us got bored and quit to go ogle girls and harass our teachers. After being extremely unimpressed with the game I unilaterally decided that MMOs were not my cup of tea, boring, and a waste of time. Fast forward to college and give me a roommate who was a gladiator in the arena and trendsetter in progression content, and my interest was officially piqued. I bought the base game and with the recruit-a-friend experience bonus in hand I leveled to fifty five in a heartbeat. My mage was attractive, deadly, and fun. However a new content patch was released for Wrath of the Lich King and my roommate had no free time in his raid schedule to level with little old me. My grinding attempts initially slowed, and then petered out completely. With a final somber look back, I thought I had left Azeroth behind for good, all the while never truly knowing the game or how I actually felt about it.
However, now a hole has been left in my life, an MMO sized hole that was left there when a game named Rift forced its way in where no MMO had before. What happened was the group of tight-knit friends I play League of Legends religiously with all pre-ordered Rift and said “Okay, we’ll see you in a few months if ever again!” This left me kind of devastated, so I immediately bought the deluxe version of Trion’s flagship game. Long story short, I leveled to max twice on two different servers, found a great guild, was working on progression material, and generally adoring the social aspect of the game. My vague, most likely incorrect memories of the boring gameplay World of Warcraft contained were being abolished by this new game and I couldn’t decipher a reason why it was so. Then when the world came crashing down around my cleric and she was left alone in the middle of a raid full of angry enemies it hit me, albeit with the force of a boss’ massive fist.
I was hooked on MMOs.
Lucky for me my guild had a much larger calling in World of Warcraft. With the fervor I’d never known before I eagerly bought up a full set of the expansions and started on my new, exciting journey! I still have my doubts and misgivings if I’m being honest, but the fun I gleaned from those long nights playing Rift remind me that MMO-fun can be had again. “I was a healer before, so I shall be a healer again!” I told myself, but it wasn’t going to be that simple. World of Warcraft is a different game from the one I played years ago, and there was a bit of culture shock I had to endure before I truly got into the groove of things.
Below are a few snippets of what I may or may not have yelled over Skype to a friend of mine who rolled a new character with me:
“Why do I have to loot all these bodies individually? What is wrong with auto-loot? It makes it too easy for gold farmers to farm gold you say? I don’t care… it’s a waste of my time!”
“What do you mean I can only dual-spec? What do you mean I can’t do it until level thirty? Why does it cost so much gold to change specs so early on? How can I quest as an enhancement shaman and dungeon grind as a restoration shaman without going broke?”
“Wait, I don’t have to train my abilities every level or two anymore? You’re joking. This is a joke, a cruel jape, it must be! It isn’t? Holy crap, this game is awesome!”
“I just blinked, what did I miss? Why am I level ten already, I’ve only been playing like half an hour. They made it this way on purpose? When did Blizzard become so uncannily aware of my wishes for an MMO?”
“Install what now? Okay, if you say so... whoa I can just click the raid frame to heal? There IS a God! All my bags are one: genius! ANT TRAILS FOR QUESTS, MY LIFE IS COMPLETE!”
“Are there global cooldowns in this game? It sure doesn’t feel like it…”
To my dismay and excitement World of Warcraft felt like an entirely new game. So much of what I had once thought a needless grind had been removed or altered to make it enjoyable that I became enamored with the gameplay. Questing has this ponderous yet cathartic feel to it and having people actually pop up in the Looking for Group tool was a relief I never took for granted until I played World of Warcraft. Plus, everything happens so fast! Sometimes when I would end up a cold and bloody corpse I actually wouldn’t know what killed me (mostly PvP). And I don’t mean that in a “I don’t have enough knowledge of the game mechanics” way, but more of the “…what just happened?” sort of pondering. Basically I’m a kid in a giant, deadly candy shop where I pay the shopkeeper by doing fetch-quests for him, and that is remarkable to me.
Let us be honest here though, the real reason that we all enjoy playing MMOs is because of their social aspect. There is a special something that can be derived from having a Teamspeak or Ventrilo server full of friends chattering in your ear while you all work together and fail horribly over and over until you succeed. It is an addicting business that can’t be enjoyed anywhere else in this particular flavor, the flavor being an MMORPG. After my time in Telara I had believed my understanding of the MMO genre to be steadfast, if not accurate and comprehensive. Yet to my astonishment I was just warming up in the frying pan of the MMO world. And as unfortunate a calamity this game will be for my social life, schoolwork, and job… I’ve got World of Warcraft blinders on now, and I can’t wait for the inferno that is the world’s largest, most successful MMO to engulf me!
For the Horde!